iPad Roadblocks That Can Be Eliminated
What I discovered was that the majority of my time is taken up with four main tasks: emailing, web browsing, scheduling, and writing. And that’s why I purchased the iPad and keyboard and ended up with the setup you see in Figure 1.
Figure 1 My three-pound portable officeiPad and keyboard
Of course, your mileage may vary. This setup works for me, but it might not be for everyone. I mentioned the earlier roadblocks, and any one of those could be a game breaker for someone wondering if he or she could ditch a laptop in favor of an iPad. So, let me explain how I busted through some of those roadblocks and have found the iPad to be a worthy tool for using in lieu of my laptop.
It Doesn’t Run Microsoft Office Applications!
Until Microsoft releases a Microsoft Word app for iPad (not holding my breath), I’m using other options for writing my articles and book chapters, one of which is the Notes app that comes standard with the iPad for quick-and-dirty writing jobs. I’ll be covering it in a future article, but right now I’m also using another app called Office2 HD that allows me to create new Word documents and edit existing ones, and it integrates with a cloud service I use called MobileMe. Again, more on this in an upcoming article.
The Screen Is Too Small!
For emails and writing purposes, the screen size is fine. I will add that the docking keyboard holds the iPad so that it is taller than it is wider. The Bluetooth keyboard will allow you to rotate the iPad for either vertical or horizontal usage, but I like the docking keyboard and, again, have adjusted my expectationsit works fine for me.
An Onscreen Keyboard Is Too Much of a Hassle to Use!
That’s why I purchased the extra docking keyboard. It’s not full-sized, but the keys are large enough and spaced properly that I don’t feel like I’m typing on a mobile phone keypad. The clickety-clack feel is solid, and it holds the iPad securely as I type. I only use the onscreen keyboard for short email responses or Internet queries when the iPad isn’t docked.
I’m Not a Fan of Cloud Computing, and That’s All the iPad Is Good For!
But I am a fan of cloud computing! I know all the arguments/debates about security and keeping all your eggs in the virtual cloud, but it works for me. I back up my files remotely, and many of the apps I use (Facebook, Mint, Google Docs, Gmail) are all accessed via the Internet. Of course, accessing all this cloud-based stuff requires a WiFi connection (or the 3G version of the iPad), but I don’t text in my car, so I’m certainly not using my iPad to shoot off an email or check my bank account. I know where a lot of WiFi hotspots are in my neighborhood, and I take full advantage of them.
It Doesn’t Even Have a USB Port!
At first I thought this was going to be a big problemno way to connect a printer? No way to import my digital photos? No mouse? But you know what? I adjusted, and I’ve found tricks around the lack of a USB port. I’ll be covering some of these tricks in subsequent follow-up articles.
I Can’t Connect to a Printer!
I only connected my laptop to my home printer on rare occasions. Instead, I would email myself files (with a subject line of “Print This”) to my desktop PC and print them later. Ditto with my iPad. I haven’t seen too many people carrying portable printers with their laptops, so I never really felt this was a big obstacle to using an iPad. But again, there are workarounds, including a few apps that allow remote printing to any printer connected to a computer that’s online. (More on that in a later article, and… a recent Apple event had an announcement that Wireless Printer support would be added to the iPad in an OS upgrade to be offered soon!)
I Need to Be Able to Access My Home/Work Computer Files!
Okay, this was one of my biggest concerns. What if I need to view that PDF or Word document that’s stored on my laptop or desktop PC? There are ways to store and read these files on an iPad, but I found a much better way using a specialized app that allows me to access both my laptop and desktop. No more file access concerns! (I’ll be showing you specifically how this works in a follow-up article, so stay tuned.)
It’s Just a ToyIt’s Not a Serious Computing Device!
It’s small, lightweight and thin… but it’s definitely no toy. People tend to forget that we used to refer to PCs with 286 and 386 processors as computersbut the least expensive version of the iPad has more processing power, storage space, and memory than those earlier devices. No, it’s not going to run the latest 3D animation software or the hottest PC games, but let’s be honest hereit is a computer. It’s just not the typical shape and size that we expect.